The most recommended autobiographies

Who picked these books? Meet our 3,764 experts.

3,764 authors created a book list connected to autobiographies, and here are their favorite autobiography books.
Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

What type of autobiography?

Loading...
Loading...

Book cover of Taylor Swift: A Little Golden Book Biography

David Seow Author Of The Power of Michelle Yeoh: Ballet, Stunts, Stardom!

From my list on picture books on the rocky road to stardom.

Why am I passionate about this?

My name is David Seow, I’ve been a huge entertainment fan since I was a child and met Jack Lord when he came to Singapore. I’ve been fascinated by celebrities and what drove them to succeed. Since then, I’ve amassed a collection of over 400 celebrity autographs. My passion for the entertainment scene and celebrities led me to work as a freelance entertainment journalist and a sitcom scriptwriter. For the past 26 years, I have followed my other passion of writing children’s picture books, and I have published 48 books to date, some of which I’ve gifted to some of my favourite celebrities.

David's book list on picture books on the rocky road to stardom

David Seow Why did David love this book?

A little star swiftly turns into a superstar!

I was lucky enough to meet Taylor, so I dove into this book with gusto. It’s an easy and highly engaging read. I love how the author emphasizes the importance of Taylor’s values: hard work, perseverance, and love of a supportive family. What I found particularly appealing was the adorable description of how an 11-year-old Taylor had the gumption to hand out CDS of her music to record execs in Nashville! Five years later, she released her first album and it was a hit!

I love how this talented young lady has used her life experiences—both good and bad—to build a bridge to success. This is a well-researched, inspirational, and enjoyable read. 

By Wendy Loggia, Elisa Chavarri (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Taylor Swift as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

#1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER • Celebrate global superstar Taylor Swift with this collectible Little Golden Book, which tells her inspiring life story alongside gorgeous original illustrations!

“A must-have for any Taylor Swift collection.”—Rolling Stone

Taylor never lets anything hold her back from creating music she loves.

With full-color illustrations on every page, Taylor Swift: A Little Golden Book Biography brings her story to life—from her childhood living on a Christmas tree farm, where she discovered her passion for songwriting, to her early days on Nashville’s Music Row and her rise as one of the biggest stars in pop music. When you’re…


Book cover of Memoirs of the Comtesse de Boigne 1815 - 1819

Philip Mansel Author Of King of the World: The Life of Louis XIV

From my list on French Court.

Why am I passionate about this?

The French court has fascinated me since boyhood visits to Blois and Versailles. The appeal of its unusually dramatic history is heightened by the prominence of women, by the number and brilliance of courtiers’ letters and memoirs, and by its stupendous cultural patronage: Even after writing seven books on the French court, from Louis XIV to Louis XVIII, I remain enthralled by Versailles, Fontainebleau, and Paris where, as the new science of court studies expands, there is always more to see and learn. The power and popularity of the French presidency today confirm the importance of the French monarchy, to which it owes so much, including its physical setting, the Elysée Palace.

Philip's book list on French Court

Philip Mansel Why did Philip love this book?

Madame de Boigne describes the same period as Chateaubriand, whom she disliked, from a liberal perspective. Both had their style and mind improved by suffering during the Emigration, which also made both, for a time, feel half-English. Boigne married a French officer who had made a fortune in India, but failed to tell her he had brought back an Indian wife. She took his money and returned to live with her parents. 

Born with what she called a ‘taste for royalty and the instinct for court life’, she described salons and quarrels, royalty and revolution, Paris and England, from 1780 to 1840. Her friend Count Pozzo di Borgo, for example, she says, would have descended into hell to find enemies for Napoleon, whom he had hated since their childhood in Corsica. She blamed the long foretold revolutions of 1830 and 1848 on monarchs’ exaggerated sense of their infallibility. A genius…

By Charles Nicoullaud (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Memoirs of the Comtesse de Boigne 1815 - 1819 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The personal writings of a 18th-19th century French Noble woman taken from her personal writings. Her papers (published in several volumes) throw many side-lights upon a long period extending from the reign of Louis XIV to the Revolution of 1848, and this rather by means of the special details which are narrated than by any generalizations from a wider outlook. This period was in every respect one of the most troubled and extraordinary in French history, and is fertile in events and changes, important though not always fortunate. Mme. De Boigne held an important social position and for nearly sixty…


Book cover of Wild Rose: The True Story of a Civil War Spy

Bryan Denson Author Of The Spy's Son: The True Story of the Highest-Ranking CIA Officer Ever Convicted of Espionage and the Son He Trained to Spy for Russia

From my list on nonfiction about turncoat American spies.

Why am I passionate about this?

I knew nothing about spies – except that James Bond preferred his martinis shaken, not stirred – until 2009, when federal agents hauled Jim and Nathan Nicholson into the federal courthouse I covered as an investigative reporter for The Oregonian newspaper. Since then, I’ve taken a deep dive into the real world of spies and spy catchers, producing The Spy’s Son and writing another cool spy case into Newsweek magazine. Now I’m hooked. But with apologies to 007, I prefer my martinis stirred. 

Bryan's book list on nonfiction about turncoat American spies

Bryan Denson Why did Bryan love this book?

Maybe it’s just me, but I tend to think of spies as cloak-and-dagger types driving Jaguars and carrying machine pistols and exploding gadgets. But spying really is the second-oldest profession. Ann Blackman’s beautifully told narrative of Washington socialite Rose O’Neal Greenhow, who became a highly successful Confederate spy during the Civil War, is a good reminder that a smart, deceptive human – female or male – can change the course of wars.

By Ann Blackman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Wild Rose as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For sheer bravado and style, no woman in the North or South rivaled the Civil War heroine Rose O’Neale Greenhow. Fearless spy for the Confederacy, glittering Washington hostess, legendary beauty and lover, Rose Greenhow risked everything for the cause she valued more than life itself. In this superb portrait, biographer Ann Blackman tells the surprising true story of a unique woman in history.

“I am a Southern woman, born with revolutionary blood in my veins,” Rose once declared–and that fiery spirit would plunge her into the center of power and the thick of adventure. Born into a slave-holding family, Rose…


A Last Survivor of the Orphan Trains: A Memoir

By Victoria Golden, William Walters,

Book cover of A Last Survivor of the Orphan Trains: A Memoir

Victoria Golden Author Of A Last Survivor of the Orphan Trains: A Memoir

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Story teller Book fav swapper Movie buff A writer’s daughter Escapee from Beverly Hills

Victoria's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Four years old and homeless, William Walters boarded one of the last American Orphan Trains in 1930 and embarked on an astonishing quest through nine decades of U.S. and world history.

For 75 years, the Orphan Trains had transported 250,000 children from the streets and orphanages of the East Coast into homes in the emerging West, sometimes providing loving new families, other times delivering kids into nightmares. Taken by a cruel New Mexico couple, William faced a terrible trial, but his strength and resilience carried him forward into unforgettable adventures.

Whether escaping his abusers, jumping freights as a preteen during…

A Last Survivor of the Orphan Trains: A Memoir

By Victoria Golden, William Walters,

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED, NORTHERN CALIFORNIA BOOK AWARDS

WINNER, DA VINCI EYE AWARD FOR COVER DESIGN, ERIC HOFFER BOOK AWARDS

HONORABLE MENTION, ERIC HOFFER BOOK AWARDS, E-BOOK NONFICTION

FINALIST, NEXT GENERATION INDIE BOOK AWARDS, E-BOOK NONFICTION

FINALIST, NEXT GENERATION INDIE BOOK AWARDS, MEMOIRS (Overcoming Adversity)

HONORABLE MENTION, READERS' FAVORITE BOOK AWARDS, GENERAL NONFICTION

From 1854 to the early 1930s, the American Orphan Trains transported 250,000 children from the streets and orphanages of the East Coast into homes in the emerging West. Unfortunately, families waiting for the trains weren’t always dreams come true—many times they were nightmares.

William Walters was little more than a…


Book cover of Kid Quixotes: A Group of Students, Their Teacher, and the One-Room School Where Everything Is Possible

Judith Simon Prager Author Of What the Dolphin Said: On the Future of Humankind

From Judith's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Idealistic International Lecturer

Judith's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Judith Simon Prager Why did Judith love this book?

One of the most inspirational books ever, as Stephen Haff pulls off a miracle in the little one-room, after-school free meet up, where mixed-heritage kids of all different ages and reading levels (some zero) flock to write their stories, read them, and be heard.

As an instructor, myself, I was dazzled by the generous, ingenious ways he let the kids lead, with brilliant hints and mountains of belief in them, engaging them so they mirrored his love of reading, his joy in sharing. I was impressed as they helped each other read and translate Don Quixote from old Spanish (teaching him, sometimes), create a bilingual touring musical show, and become family.

It felt so much greater than a “feel-good” book, rising to heights that included one hundred professional writers coming in to participate humbly. Salman Rushdie said, “Cervantes would be proud.” This book fills my heart with joy.

By Stephen Haff,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Kid Quixotes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"In my years of experience as a writer and as a college professor, I have never seen anything like this: the love for language, the passion for discussion, clarity of mind, and humility of heart. Stephen Haff invents impossible projects and makes them possible."
-Valeria Luiselli, author of Lost Children Archive

The unlikely, inspiring true story of a one-room school where children of undocumented immigrants and their teacher discover their voices and speak truth to power.

Still Waters in a Storm is an after-school program held in a small room in Bushwick, Brooklyn; it is a place for kids to…


Book cover of Twelve Patients: Life and Death at Bellevue Hospital

David Z. Hirsch Author Of Didn't Get Frazzled

From David's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Physician Novelist Humorist

David's 3 favorite reads in 2023

David Z. Hirsch Why did David love this book?

This book is the source material for New Amsterdam, the popular NBC series streaming on Netflix and Peacock. While the TV show struck me as a frenetic jumble of heavy-handed melodrama, the book takes a steadier, more realistic approach.

In each of the twelve stories, Manheimer, along with other dedicated physicians, strives to help each challenging patient battle disease while managing multiple complicating factors including socioeconomic distress, immigration policy, and the criminal justice system. I found the resolutions genuine if not always satisfying.

By Eric Manheimer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Twelve Patients as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Using the plights of twelve very different patients-from dignitaries at the nearby UN, to supermax prisoners at Riker's Island, to illegal immigrants, and Wall Street tycoons-Dr. Eric Manheimer "offers far more than remarkable medical dramas: he blends each patient's personal experiences with their social implications" (Publishers Weekly).

Manheimer was not only the medical director of the country's oldest public hospital for over 13 years but he was also a patient.

As the book unfolds, the narrator is diagnosed with cancer and he is forced to wrestle with the end of his own life even as he struggles to save the…


Book cover of Don't Call Me Mother: A Daughter's Journey from Abandonment to Forgiveness

Linda Murphy Marshall Author Of Ivy Lodge: A Memoir of Translation and Discovery

From my list on memoirs that touch upon something special.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in the 1960s in the Midwest, in a male-dominated family, where appearances were highly important, where no one seemed to focus on anyone’s feelings or plans (particularly as a female member of the family). As a result, I’m drawn to books where the author explores this type of problematic relationship, of a protagonist trying to carve out her identity in the midst of often overwhelming obstacles. It also interests me to read about women who, like me, somehow managed to discover who they were (I use the word “translate” in my memoir), to carve out an identity that is separate from the idea that people around her erroneously hold to be true.

Linda's book list on memoirs that touch upon something special

Linda Murphy Marshall Why did Linda love this book?

This book is particularly good for anyone who was/is in the baby-boomer generation and/or who had issues with their mother.

I identified with Meyer’s ongoing struggles with her mother, a mother who was born during a period when women were normally not allowed to stretch their wings and live their own lives. This was my situation and – in hindsight – I often wonder if many of my personal struggles with my mother were due to the fact that I was afforded so many more opportunities than my mother, through no fault of her own.

By Linda Joy Myers,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Don't Call Me Mother as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This compassionate and gripping memoir tells the story of three generations of daughters who, though determined to be different from their absent mothers, ultimately follow in their footsteps. Myers's new afterword continues the saga, allowing her to confront her family legacy and come full circle with her daughter and grandchildren.


Book cover of A Sense of the World: How a Blind Man Became History's Greatest Traveler

M. Leona Godin Author Of There Plant Eyes: A Personal and Cultural History of Blindness

From my list on blindness and the brain.

Why am I passionate about this?

Thanks to a degenerative retinal eye disease, I’ve lived on pretty much every notch of the sight-blindness continuum. While going blind super slowly I’ve engaged with the science of seeing and not-seeing as an  academic and artist for about 25 years. I like to say that there are as many ways of being blind as there are of being sighted, there are just fewer of us. Besides teaching literature and humanities courses at NYU, I’ve lectured on art, accessibility, technology, and disability at universities and institutions around the country. I love sharing stories about the brain on blindness, and hope you find my recommendations as fascinating as I do.

M.'s book list on blindness and the brain

M. Leona Godin Why did M. love this book?

If the word “echolocation” pricked up your ears in my previous recommendation, I think you’ll love this book which is both a biography and a deep dive into how one blind person used the senses he had to become the first person to go around the world. James Holman (1786-1857) lost his sight at the age of 25 while he was an officer in the British Royal Navy. His career was cut short and he refashioned himself as an author and adventurer known as the “blind traveler.” Roberts explains how Holman used his gentleman’s walking stick not only to detect obstacles and level changes in his immediate environment, but also used the sound of the metal tip bouncing off objects to guide him through far-flung regions of the world.

By Jason Roberts,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Sense of the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

He was known simply as the Blind Traveler -- a solitary, sightless adventurer who, astonishingly, fought the slave trade in Af-rica, survived a frozen captivity in Siberia, hunted rogue elephants in Ceylon, and helped chart the Australian outback. James Holman (1786-1857) became "one of the greatest wonders of the world he so sagaciously explored," triumphing not only over blindness but crippling pain, poverty, and the interference of well-meaning authorities (his greatest feat, a circumnavigation of the globe, had to be launched in secret). Once a celebrity, a bestselling author, and an inspiration to Charles Darwin and Sir Richard Francis Burton,…


Book cover of All Ships Follow Me: A Family Memoir of War Across Three Continents

Sophie Poldermans Author Of Seducing and Killing Nazis: Hannie, Truus and Freddie: Dutch Resistance Heroines of WWII

From my list on World War II heroines.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a Dutch author and lawyer specialized in international criminal law. My expertise is the role of women leaders in times of conflict, crisis, and change – especially during war and in post-conflict societies. Women are traditionally portrayed as victims, while it is precisely women who show genuine leadership skills in times of conflict, crisis, and change. I've done research on women’s armed resistance in the Netherlands in WWII, and am an expert on the lives and resistance work of Hannie Shaft and the sisters Truus and Freddie Oversteegen. In addition, I've done research in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda and saw the same patterns in these conflicts and the impact on the generations after. 

Sophie's book list on World War II heroines

Sophie Poldermans Why did Sophie love this book?

A remarkable and incredibly brave epic saga of a young woman struggling with the inheritance of her father who grew up in the colonial era of the Netherlands in the Dutch East Indies and who had been interned in a concentration camp by the Japanese as a child and her mother who had been abandoned as a little girl at the end of WWII because her parents were Nazi sympathizers and were therefore imprisoned. The author grew up in California, USA, with many questions about her family’s identity and secrets in the war. A courageous book breaking the taboo of shedding light on ‘the other side.’ The author is a personal friend of mine.

By Mieke Eerkens,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked All Ships Follow Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An engrossing, epic saga of one family’s experiences on both sides of WWII, All Ships Follow Me questions our common narrative of the conflict and our stark notions of victim and perpetrator, while tracing the lasting effects of war through several generations.

In March 1942, Mieke Eerkens’ father was a ten-year-old boy living in the Dutch East Indies. When the Japanese invaded the island he, his family, and one hundred thousand other Dutch civilians were interned in a concentration camp and forced into hard labor for three years. After the Japanese surrendered, Mieke’s father and his family were set free…


Book cover of What We Carry: A Memoir

Rica Keenum Author Of Petals of Rain: A Mother's Memoir

From my list on for daughters with toxic or complicated mothers.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up, my mother refused to acknowledge that my stepfather sexually abused me for many years. I was forced to call him “Dad” and I was told to “forgive and forget.” It took me decades to understand that while I could teach my mind to deny my pain and grief, trauma stayed embedded within my heart and shaped my life, relationships, internal beliefs, and decisions. After a triggering event, it ultimately morphed into depression, which I’m now battling in my forties. Having written two memoirs on the impact of trauma, I am only now finding the wisdom and courage to distance myself from my mother and stepfather. The books I’ve recommended have brought me comfort and a sense of relief. 

Rica's book list on for daughters with toxic or complicated mothers

Rica Keenum Why did Rica love this book?

While I found this memoir to be beautiful in language and story, I connected most with the author’s stark revelations. She writes from the perspective of a daughter, then a new mother, and finally a caregiver for both her child and her ailing mother. As she navigates life in these varied roles, she begins to see the truth about her mother with compelling clarity. In the end, I felt a deep sense of understanding and was able to remind myself that while I have been naive in my own relationships, it was love that compelled me to cling to my mother, even at the cost of my own wellbeing. 

By Maya Shanbhag Lang,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What We Carry as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“A gorgeous memoir about mothers, daughters, and the tenacity of the love that grows between what is said and what is left unspoken.”—Mira Jacob, author of Good Talk
 
If our family stories shape us, what happens when we learn those stories were never true? Who do we become when we shed our illusions about the past?
 
Maya Shanbhag Lang grew up idolizing her brilliant mother, an accomplished physician who immigrated to the United States from India and completed her residency all while raising her children and keeping a traditional Indian home. Maya’s mother had always been a source of support—until…


Book cover of Wilhelm II (2 vols)

James Charles Roy Author Of The Vanished Kingdom: Travels Through the History of Prussia

From my list on Prussia from different perspectives.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am what is euphemistically called an "independent scholar," meaning I have no academic affiliation, no straightforward road I must follow (in order, let’s say, to gain tenure), and no duty per se to follow a pre-ordained or politically correct point of view. But being a "freelance"  has obligations which I take very seriously. I feel that my job, in any subject I choose to pursue, is to engage the reader in a joint venture. I must instill in them the same enthusiasm I have for whatever I’m writing about, which in this case is the history of Prussia, and the state of this footprint on earth which war and ceaseless conflict have rearranged countless times. To do that, I usually take an often oblique and "off the radar" approach that I think will pull the reader along with me, making the journey for both of us something that matters.

James' book list on Prussia from different perspectives

James Charles Roy Why did James love this book?

Wilhelm II, the last Hohenzollern kaiser of Germany, and the last King of Prussia, bears perhaps more than any other single individual the onus of causing World War I, the most industrial and catastrophic conflict ever seen on earth to that point. His flamboyant personality, erratic thought processes, and often uncontrollable outbursts of temper, disjointed the European political arena on a sometimes weekly basis, causing instability, confusion, and uncertainty in the minds of diplomats throughout Europe. His abdication of the throne in 1918 proved the end of the Hohenzollern dynasty, with East Prussia detached geographically from the rest of Germany by the Polish Corridor, a sore point almost as annoying to contemporary Germans as the Versailles Treaty, and a flashpoint that would ignite again in 1939. Cecil's very well-written and enlightening biography will not be replicated anytime soon.

By Lamar Cecil,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Wilhelm II (2 vols) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Wilhelm II (1859-1941), King of Prussia and German Emperor from 1888 to 1918, reigned during a period of unprecedented economic, cultural, and intellectual achievement in Germany. This volume completes Lamar Cecil's prize-winning scholarly biography of the Kaiser, one of modern history's most powerful--and most misunderstood--rulers.
As Cecil shows, Wilhelm's private life reflects a deeply troubled and very superficial man. But the book's larger focus is on Wilhelm as a head of state. Cecil traces the events of the years leading up to World War I, a period that offers ample evidence of the Kaiser's inept conduct of foreign affairs, especially…